You read books and textbooks all semester, but you feel like you haven’t read anything. You prepare for exams, study lecture notes. And the information quickly flies away. After the exam, you forget everything. You know how it feels, right? In fact, cramming can really help you earn a higher grade. But it is an illusory win. What you’ve learned is quickly forgotten, because cramming uses short-term memory. Scientists describe cramming as a temporary advantage and compare it to mastering sustained knowledge and skills.
How to learn and memorize properly
Learning is a cyclical process that requires returning to what you have learned over and over again, constantly updating knowledge, and relating it to new information. Learning is not easy at all, you have to make an effort to learn and understand anything. However, you must remember that failures are inevitable, and your mistakes are evidence of your efforts, not of your inability. Although many students give up at this stage and buy an expository essay because they do not believe in their abilities, but you should remember that through mistakes, you gain unique experience, and your abilities increase. Studies prove that knowledge is better absorbed if the brain has to work hard. The more effort it takes to remember, the more effectively the knowledge is reinforced.
So what kind of effort does it take to remember things you read and study?
Key Learning Strategies
There are three key learning strategies.
1. The practice of remembering new knowledge
This is, to put it simply, self-testing along the way through the learning process. This is much more effective than rereading what you’ve already learned once.
How to do it? Always ask yourself questions after reading specific chapters in your textbook (you can use the control questions in your textbook after each chapter, make question-and-answer cards, or take quizzes online on the discipline). It is important not to look at the text.
It is best to practice this kind of testing once a week on the material you have covered in the last few days and on the previous material.
According to the results of the self-test, you will see gaps in your knowledge, which you should pay special attention to.
Why? Forgetting is a natural process for people. But thanks to self-testing, you will be able to consolidate knowledge in your memory. Believe us, this habit of recalling over the semester will save you from the stress and cramming.
But if you are a stickler for rereading, then be prepared for the fact that in this way you will create the illusion of knowledge. Passive absorption of information will not get you very far in your studies. Just checking yourself in with the main ideas allows you to focus on the essentials, and the effort of memorizing makes the knowledge more durable.
2. Interval learning
It is learning new material more than once. It is important to review the material at long intervals.
How to do it? Make a self-testing plan so that there is a break between periods of study. For example, you should test and reread new material in one day, the next time in a week. Once you feel you’ve mastered the topic, do the self-test once a month.
During the semester, go back to self-testing what you’ve already learned before along with the new knowledge. And make a connection between the new knowledge and the old knowledge. Make sense of it! You understand and remember information better by reasoning.
The practice of interval learning also includes learning two or more topics at once. This shifting of attention from one topic to another allows you to refresh your memory on each one.
Why? Self-testing and repeating material with intervals requires more effort than studying one topic in-depth (by cramming). But this interval learning has proven to be one of the most effective learning strategies-you to reload information from long-term memory in this way, it allows you to better comprehend, remember, and connect new knowledge with other knowledge.
3. Alternating among different types of tasks
If you want to memorize important legal terms or solve a variety of legal problems, study them at the same time. In other words, you should alternate between different kinds of tasks that require different solutions.
How to do this? Often textbooks are built according to the block principle: one chapter describes the solution of a certain type of problem. Following this method of study is difficult to achieve efficiency. It is best to alternate between solving different types of problems and to remember how they are solved each time. It’s like basketball: If an athlete practices free throws at once at different amplitudes, he will be more effective than one who practices one technique after another.
Why? This alternation of tasks and knowledge develops the ability to distinguish information and highlight the general. It will help you on an exam or in real life when you have to realize the type of problem or task you have on the go and make a decision on your own.
Use these three key strategies in your learning process, turn them into a habit, and your progress will be evident not only to you but also to your teachers.
Just remember, most importantly:
- Difficulties in the learning process are normal. It leads to strong knowledge and memorization. As you learn and overcome difficulties, you change your mind, form new neural connections, and increase your intelligence.
- Those who take responsibility for their own learning are more successful learners.
- Options for remembering what you once learned and knew: testing or self-testing, repeating what you’ve learned with intervals of time, mastering different knowledge and skills related to each other, solving a variety of problems.
- Information is better remembered if it is associated with something meaningful and individual to a person.
- Comprehend, connect new knowledge with old knowledge, reflect, generate answers before you get a ready solution, use mnemonic techniques for memorization, get feedback from the teacher about your knowledge – all in all, apply different learning methods, and don’t stop where you are.
For better results, we suggest you pay attention to the following tips as well.
Principles of the honors student:
- Always read the material before the lecture.
- While reading, imagine what questions might be on the test and try to answer them.
- Mentally answer the questions during lectures to check your understanding of what you have read.
- Learn any unfamiliar or forgotten concepts encountered in the textbooks.
- Copy large-printed terms and concepts into a workbook and check regularly to make sure they make sense.
- Take online practice tests suggested by the teacher. Learn identified unknown concepts.
- Reorganize the information in the textbook according to your own plan.
- Write down particularly important concepts and display them visibly: check your knowledge from time to time.
- Go back to what you have learned over time and test yourself along the way.
We hope that our simple tips will help you memorize new information more effectively than it was before. After all, in addition to thick notebooks with lectures, learning should leave useful knowledge in your head. In fact, it’s no secret that only a person with good memory and specific knowledge can be a good and successful specialist.
I’m a student and freelance writer. Participant in student exchange programs and a traveler. I write about student life, helpful tips, and my own experiences at university.